Time to look ahead to Sunday's decider! Rob Crosby has a full look at both teams and what to expect ...
47 hours ago
The North Queensland Young Guns continued their spellbinding attacking form, defeating the Toowoomba Clydesdales 44-26 at Clive Berghofer Stadium today. The first half was a see-sawing affair, with tries, blows and the lead exchanged a number of times at rapid pace. Great direction from Young Guns five-eighth and captain Chris Sheppard eventually steered the visitors home, with a second half onslaught of tries.
The first half was a tennis-style exchange of tries, which started in the second minute of the match. An early penalty gave the Clydesdales excellent field position early, with Ian Lacey putting up a cross field bomb on the last tackle. A little luck went the way of the home side, with rangy centre Scott Minto diving on the wayward ball to give the Clydesdales a 4-0 lead.
Less than ten minutes later, a perfectly weighted grubber from Young Guns? halfback Steven Goodhew sat up perfectly to give Brenton Bowen a try in the corner. He converted from the sideline to give the Young Guns a slight lead, but there was plenty more to come.
Tryscoring addict Nick Parfitt completed a great team move just 4 minutes later when he crossed for his 12th try of the season to give the Clydesdales the lead. North Queensland hit back almost straight away through second-rower Daniel Strickland as the lead changed hands once again.
With just 15 minutes left in the half, Scott Minto crossed for his second try of the match which was easily converted by Steve Irwin. The Young Guns refused to lie down, and dominated the next ten minutes with brilliant individual tries to Wallace Solomona and Chris Sheppard to give the visitors an 8 point lead.
Steve Irwin brought the Clydesdales closer with a late try and conversion from the corner, as the teams walked to the sheds with the visitors nursing a 24-22 lead.
Defence from both sides improved markedly in the second half, with the score remaining the same until the 11th minute. Sam Thaiday showed remarkable skill to keep the ball in field of play, where it came to Scott Minto who collected his third try of the afternoon, giving Toowoomba a two point lead. Rod Jenson was almost in the clear just minutes later when he attempted an intercept, but fortunately for the Clydesdales the ball went to ground.
The Young Guns were denied again after repeated sets of six, with the video try ruling the ball went forward off the hands of Rod Jenson after a nicely placed kick from Goodhew. They finally broke through in the 60th minute, as Rod Jenson broke the line to give a flying Brenton Bowen his second try of the game. Some soft defence let a rampaging Jaiman Lowe through the line to score just 15 minutes out from full-time, with the score at 34-26.
Chris Sheppard all but sealed it for the visitors with a clever dummy and sidestep bringing him another try, and the score to 38-26. The Young Guns were in again just minutes later through centre Derrick Watkins, turning the match into a very lopsided one at 44-26.
The effort of the Clydesdales was evident for most of the match, but seemed to fade away in the second half as the attacking prowess of the Young Guns ran rampant. They have proved time and time again that they are one of the benchmark attacking teams in the competition, and today was no exception. Bolstered by the return of some Cowboy?s players, the Young Guns simply outplayed the Clydesdales in the second half and thoroughly deserved the win.
It wasn?t all doom and gloom for the Toowoomba side, with the return of Paul Green proving a positive side for the Clydesdales and Broncos alike. He was heavily involved in the first half and will only get better as the weeks go on. Adrian Vowles must be eyeballing a Broncos jersey with another solid performance in the number 13 jersey. Carl Webb also continued his return to top grade football with one of his better performances this year.
Toowoomba travel to Bendigo Bank Oval next weekend to take on the Ipswich Jets, who haven?t been in great form this year. The Clydesdales will be desperate to make up for today?s loss and will throw everything at their Bulimba Cup rivals in front of what should be a packed crowd.
North Queensland Young Guns 44 (Bowen 2, Sheppard 2, Strickland, Solomona, Lowe, Watkins tries; Bowen 6 goals) defeated Toowoomba Clydesdales 26 (Minto 3, Parfitt, Irwin; Irwin 3 goals).
Half Time Score: Young Guns 24-22
Penalties: Young Guns 9-6
Referee: Justin Eastwood